I had the privilege of listening to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, a world renowned pediatrician, as he shared nuggets of wisdom on creating learning environments for youth from birth to adolescence. I sat in awe as this ninety-four year old young man poured out anecdotal strategies to engage infants, toddlers and school agers. His presence and ability to engage an audience that was thirty to fifty years younger than him was a testament that continued education and lifelong learning is the key to adaptability in a changing workforce, maintaining a sharp mind and longevity of purpose. During Dr. Brazelton’s presentation his assistant who was about fifty years younger commented that Dr. Brazelton is a hard act to follow because of his “youthfulness” which he attributed to his insatiable desire to continue learning new things and teaching others. That’s who I want to be!
Have you considered who and where you will be in the next ten, twenty or thirty years? Will you continue to be a contributor in your chosen field of expertise, will you continue to be a trendsetter, a go to person or will you become a liability, nuisance and an artifact of the good ole days.
Over the next month, take the challenge to develop and maintain a love for lifelong learning and professional development.
#1: Commit To Reading – According to the Associated Press in 2007 only one in four adults read a book that year. Most individuals stop reading once they have achieved their high school diploma or degree. The accomplishment of a diploma or degree is just the beginning, continue reading books and articles in your chosen career. Benefits of reading include increased vocabulary and earning potential. The National Center for Education Statistics in 2003 reported that adults with low language literacy were three times more likely to live below the poverty level, our children learn by example so our commitment to reading becomes a legacy for them.
#2: Take or Teach a Class – Invest in yourself by taking classes or seminar throughout the year that enhance your career or business; and also enrichment classes that broaden your horizons. You also can challenge yourself by sharing your knowledge as an instructor; develop a curriculum or program and pitch it to your local association, ministry or college. Teaching is a great vehicle to increase your knowledge and others.
#3: Step outside your comfort zone and develop a relationship with someone outside your usual circle of associates and friends. This is an opportunity to educate yourself about other cultures such as worshipping outside your faith occasionally or becoming involved in other organizations outside your culture. For example, I served for two years on the Asians Against Domestic Abuse board of directors, it was an excellent experience and insight into a culture and its people.
Take the challenge this month and expand your educational opportunities; and then make it habit to adapt to the ever changing workforce, nurture a sharp mind and walk in purpose. Learning to learn is non-negotiable!